News of the Weird by the Editors at Andrews McMeel Syndication



Love Can Mess You Up: Before Arthur David Horn met his future bride Lynette (a "metaphysical healer") in 1988, he was a tenured professor at Colorado State, with a Ph.D. in anthropology from Yale, teaching a mainstream course in human evolution. With Lynette's guidance (after a revelatory week with her in California's Trinity Mountains, searching for Bigfoot), Horn evolved, himself, resigning from Colorado State and seeking to remedy his inadequate Ivy League education. At a conference in Denver in September, Horn said he now realizes that humans come from an alien race of shape-shifting reptilians that continue to control civilization through the secretive leaders known as the Illuminati. Other panelists in Denver included enthusiasts describing their own experiences with various alien races.

Can't Possibly Be True

-- Health Insurance Follies: (1) Blue Shield California twice refused to pay $2,700 emergency room claims by Rosalinda Miran-Ramirez, concluding that it was not a "reasonable" decision for her to go to the ER that morning when she awoke to a shirt saturated with blood from what turned out to be a breast tumor. Only after a KPIX-TV reporter intervened in September did Blue Shield pay the claim. (2) National Women's Law Center found that the laws of eight states permit insurance companies to deny health coverage to a battered spouse (as a "pre-existing condition," since batterers tend to be recidivists), according to a September report by Kaiser Health News.

-- Child "Protection" Caseworkers: (1) In November 2008, the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services returned an infant to her mother's care two weeks after the woman had, according to police, left her in a toilet bowl. (Three months later, following further investigation, the woman was charged with attempted murder, and the baby was taken away.) (2) Texas child agency caseworkers assigned a low priority (non-"immediate" risk) after a home visit in May in Arlington revealed that a violent, long-troubled mother routinely left three children, ages 6, 5 and 1, home alone all day while she was at work. In September, the 1-year-old was found dead.

-- On Aug. 28, a suicide bomber approached Saudi Prince Mohammed bin Nayef, intending to kill them both using a new, mysterious device that an al-Qaida video had earlier proclaimed would be impossible to detect. The terrorist blew up only himself, though, and security investigators concluded that his "bomb" was a 3-inch-long explosive hidden in his rectum. A Transportation Security Administration official downplayed the puny power of such a small device (but its effectiveness in bringing down an airplane is still an open question).


-- While state and local governments furiously pare budgets by laying off and furloughing workers, retired bureaucrats who receive defined-benefit pensions (rather than flexible 401(k) retirement accounts) continue to receive fixed payouts. According to a California organization advocating that government retirement benefits be changed from pensions to 401(k) accounts, one retired fire chief in northern California gets $241,000 a year, and a retired small-town city administrator's pension is $499,674.84 per year, guaranteed.

Unclear on the Concept

-- In September, Hadi al-Mutif, 34, who has been on death row in Saudi Arabia for the last 16 years, following his conviction for insulting the Prophet Muhammad, was given a five-year prison sentence after insulting the Saudi justice system in a TV interview.

-- Among the ramblings on the blog of George Sodini (the gunman who killed three women in a Pennsylvania health club, and then himself, in August) was his belief that, having once been "saved," he would enter heaven even if he happened to commit mass murder. Sodini attributed the belief to one of his church's pastors, and another church official, Deacon Jack Rickard, told the Associated Press that he personally believes Sodini is in heaven ("once saved, always saved"), though Rickard somehow split the difference: "He'll be in heaven, but he won't have any rewards because he did evil."

-- The San Francisco Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals operates an assistance-dog program under a $500,000 grant and not only provides the trained dog but also yearly "refresher" sessions to keep the dog sharp. However, client Patricia Frieze told SF Weekly in September that the organization had asked her whether it could do the refresher course this year by telephone instead of a home visit by a trainer.

Fine Points of the Law

-- Landlords Prevail: (1) In July, Chuck Bartlett was finally granted legal possession of his house in Kenai, Alaska, overcoming a squatter's delaying tactics aided by local laws that frustrated eviction despite clear evidence of Bartlett's ownership. (Bartlett waited out the two-month standoff by pitching a tent in his own yard.) The squatter's final, futile challenge involved scribbling an obviously bogus "lease" that, even though Bartlett never signed it (or even saw it), the sheriff had to honor because only a judge, following a formal hearing, can rule it invalid. (2) In Raleigh, N.C., in July, Leslie Smith, 62, had no such problem. He was arrested after calling the police to report that he had shot a woman who had been living in his house. "She won't get out (of the house). So I shot her."

People Different From Us

-- (1) Douglas Jones, 57, was cited by federal park rangers in September for having, over the course of a year, littered Joshua Tree National Park in California with more than 3,000 golf balls. Jones explained that he tossed the balls from his car, believing he was thus honoring deceased golfers. (2) John Manley, 50, breathed pain-free in September for the first time in two years after surgeons discovered the source of his coughing and discomfort. Manley said he "like(s) to take big gulps of drink," which is his only explanation for why a 1-inch piece of a plastic utensil was lodged not in his stomach but in his lung. Duke University surgeon Momen Wahidi recalled the scene in the operating room as they tried to make out what the fragment was: "We started reading out loud, 'a-m-b-u-r-g-e-r'" (for Wendy's Old-Fashioned Hamburgers).

Least Competent Victims

-- Two men were arrested in a suburb of Melbourne, Australia, in September after allegedly scamming four local businessmen out of a total of $160,000, but the scam may reflect worse on the victims than the perpetrators. The victims (who might have considered themselves savvy entrepreneurs to have earned that much money) were somehow persuaded by the alleged scammers that bills of currency can duplicate themselves if soaked in a secret chemical overnight. The perpetrators "demonstrated" the chemical's power by a sleight-of-hand, probably involving a hidden $100 bill that, after soaking, appeared alongside an original $100 bill. (Readers who want to try chemically doubling their money thusly will need bleach, baby powder and hair spray, which the perpetrators had recently purchased.)

Recurring Themes

-- More Examples of Miracle Drugs: (1) Mitchell Deslatte, 25, drove in and parked at a Louisiana state trooper station in Baton Rouge in July, staggered inside, and asked the man behind the desk for a room, thinking he was in a hotel. He was arrested for DUI. (2) Terence Loyd, 32, pleaded guilty in Mansfield, La., in August to possession of cocaine. He had been arrested in March when construction workers saw him on his hands and knees, rolling in (and eating) mud and growling like a dog.

A News of the Weird Classic (September 2005)

-- From a Legal Notice of a Name Change in the Honolulu Advertiser, Aug. 24, 2005: change name from "Waiaulia Alohi anail ke alaamek kawaipi olanihenoheno Kam Paghmani" to "Waiaulia Alohi anail ke alaamek kawaipi olanihenoheno Kam."

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